theories of lifespan development

Theories of Lifespan Development

Introduction and Alignment

Lifespan development theories examine patterns of growth, change, and stability in behavior that occur throughout the entire lifespan. Human development occurs in stages based on a complex interaction of biological, psychological, and social processes. Each of us develops and matures through a series of ages and stages, through which we can achieve our full potential as human beings. The developmental perspective focuses on how human behavior unfolds across the life course; how people change and stay the same over time. Each new stage involves new tasks and brings changes in social roles and statuses. A life span development perspective involves recognition and understanding of each individual’s status and progression in various spheres of development. A social worker can determine how each individual is functioning in his or her ongoing life situation—and what each client needs to experience in order to progress.

Upon completion of this assignment, you should be able to:

  • Explore the impact diversity and difference have in shaping life experiences. (PO 2)
  • Demonstrate understanding of person-in-environment from a developmental perspective. (PO 6)


  • Textbook: Contemporary Human Behavior Theory: A Critical Perspective for Social Work
  • Media: Human Development

Background Information

The broad array of theories presented in your readings for this assignment offer important concepts to aid social workers in our understanding of the historical, social, political, and economic factors that have an impact on people’s lives.

Review the chart to see the applicability of how theories of lifespan development provide a sound theoretical base for an activist model of practice.

Levels of Application of Theories of Lifespan Development


  1. In your textbook Contemporary Human Behavior Theory: A Critical Perspective for Social Work, read Chapter 8, “Theories of Lifespan Development.”
  2. Click the link to watch the media presentation “Human Development” and complete the interactive activities to learn more about the different life stages and theoretical approaches to development.
    CoCo Presentation
  3. In an APA formatted paper, respond to four of the following question sets:
    1. Identify a stage of Erikson’s you’ve been through. Discuss the conflicts that arose at that stage, the approximate age bands, and the lasting ego quality that arose from the resolution of each conflict.
    2. Compare and contrast the research findings on human development in males and females.
    3. Discuss the way in which social, economic, and technological changes have impacted family structure in the U.S. Give examples of the new family forms that have emerged from these changes and discuss the implications for social work practice with families.
    4. Why is it important for social workers to recognize the role of chosen family in their clients’ lives?
    5. Reflect on your own birth family and your chosen family. In what ways do they differ? In what ways are they similar? Explore these answers through the lens of gender, religion, culture, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and race.
    6. What are the age norms for young adulthood in your family system? Do gender and culture factor into these norms in your family? How do you think that age norms in your family might affect your social work practice with families that have different norms?
  4. Before finalizing your work, ensure that you:
    1. Have followed the assignment instructions carefully.
    2. Use the computer’s spelling and grammar check.
    3. Use APA format for organization, style, and source credits, including:
      1. 12-point, double-spaced Times New Roman font
      2. One-inch margins on all sides
      3. Normal character spacing
      4. In-text citations
      5. Title page and reference page (may not have reference page as it is not required to list Bible in references)
      6. Properly formatted headings
  5. Review the rubric that your instructor will use to evaluate your work. Self-assess your assignment using the rubric and make improvements as needed to meet expectations and ensure that your work fulfills all the requirements.
  6. When you have completed your assignment, save a copy for yourself and submit a copy to your instructor using the Dropbox by the end of the workshop.